Health

Nursing Home Residents Had An Unusual Guest—A Clydesdale Horse

Pet therapy done big.

It’s commonplace to have cats and other, small animals live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These animals provide residents with company, plus a number of additional physical and mental health benefits. But what happens when a horse visits a nursing home? And have you ever even heard of such a thing?

Well, we have an answer to that first question: pure joy. Observe.

About two weeks ago, this photo of a horse visiting a nursing home was posted on Reddit.

Extra large pet therapy at our nursing home today. from Horses

But wait—what?!—you may be wondering. How did this come to be? We’ve heard of pet therapy at nursing homes before—say, with cats or dogs—but a horse?!

It was all thanks to Carolyn Martin, administrator at The Village of East Harbor Senior Living Community in Michigan. Struck with a wild idea, she got in touch with Chamberlin Pony Rides, who in turn connected her with one of their contractors, Maggie Provenzano. And sure, Provenzano had never brought her horse indoors before. But there’s a first time for everything.

horse
The Village of East Harbor/Facebook

“It was pet therapy on steroids,” Martin told TODAY about the horse’s visit to the nursing home. And the Clydesdale horse, Renee, who also goes by Neigh-Neigh, had a big impact on nursing home residents and non-residents alike.

The Village of East Harbor
The Village of East Harbor

Martin said that even people who rarely socialize with others came out to meet the horse.

The Village of East Harbor
The Village of East Harbor

Everyone was having such a good time that the visit with Neigh-Neigh ballooned from one hour to two-and-a-half. Provenzano wanted Neigh-Neigh to meet everybody, according to TODAY.

The Village of East Harbor
The Village of East Harbor

The Village of East Harbor
The Village of East Harbor

This woman, in a memory care section of the senior living community that helps people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, had a very touching encounter with the horse—literally and figuratively.

The Village of East Harbor
The Village of East Harbor

Overall, the horse’s visit to the nursing home brought tears to many people’s eyes. It was “one of the most moving days we’ve ever had,” Martin said.

At my grandma’s nursing home near Chicago, they have cats and dogs come to visit, and it’s amazing to see the smiles that the animals bring to people’s faces. So I can only imagine what Neigh-Neigh’s visit was like. “Everybody was just so moved by the experience,” Martin said. “It was almost like she just knew.”

You can see even more pictures on The Village of East Harbor’s Facebook page. (But get more Kleenex ready!)